By Alvin Tsang
The popular Westboro Beach will be closed to the public this summer season.
On March 18, the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission (NCC) announced that the local beach will be modernised in a redevelopment project.
Valérie Dufour, senior manager of strategic communications at the NCC, told Kitchissippi Times that the final design of the beach will be voted on April 7 by the NCC Board of Directors.
“The Westboro Beach will be closed for the summer of 2022 as we launch this exciting renewal project and begin the construction of a new pavilion that will be a highly sustainable, zero-carbon building to serve the public year-round,” Dufour said.
The design plans include a new modern restaurant and community space, historic interpretation of the site, river lookouts, children’s play areas, outdoor showers and gender-neutral and fully accessible washrooms.
“We are so pleased to begin this important step to implement the NCC’s Ottawa River South Shore Riverfront Park,” Dufour said.
The Ottawa River South Shore Riverfront Park will be a continuous riverfront park that connects communities to the nine kilometres of riverfront lands between LeBreton Flats and Mud Lake Conservation Area.
“Westboro Beach is a key hub on the Ottawa side of the historic Ottawa River, and we will create a more vibrant, active space that will improve the quality of life of residents and the experience of visitors,” Dufour said.
The beach is the main attraction of the Westboro site, with a tall grassy hill next to it well-known for tobogganing in the winter. Both the beach and the hill will be left as they are in the upcoming design.
The current parking lot of Westboro Beach has 65 parking spaces. In the new design, this parking lot will be removed to make space for fun new park amenities, such as the lookouts, a picnic area and possibly some volleyball courts.
Over the years at Westboro Beach, there have been reports of collisions between cyclists and pedestrians on the multi-use pathway. The new design will improve foot traffic, separating cyclists from pedestrians and ensuring that they do not cross paths with vehicles.
Dan Chenier, project leader and general manager of recreation, cultural and facilities services for the City of Ottawa, said in a statement that they recognize the importance of beach access for residents. The statement explained that the team did explore several possibilities to keep the beach open, but, ultimately, decided against it as it couldn’t be safely accommodated with ongoing construction.
“Due to the significant staging area required by the contractor and safety considerations, Westboro Beach will be closed for the 2022 season,” Chenier said.
The city’s main involvement in the project is managing beach operations while the NCC leads the construction.
“Construction work will take place on and around the site, and various detours will be in place to help the public navigate through the area and help direct traffic as necessary,” Chenier said.
There is no set date on when construction begins, but certain areas at Westboro Beach are already gated off from the public.